Hamilton, Ont. – A pair of nationally-ranked squads are set to take to the court to open up their second half push for the playoffs in this week’s Marquee Matchup, powered by Planters Canada, with the top spot in the division on the line. The McMaster Marauders men’s volleyball team gets set to host the Windsor Lancers at Burridge Gymnasium in a powerhouse clash that could boast important implications for the quest for the Forsyth Cup.
McMaster, like they have done so often in recent years, have maintained their status as one of the top teams in all of Canada, playing their way to a 6-2 record thus far. Aside from their slim 3-2 defeats at the hands of the Queen’s Gaels and fellow top-10 squad Western Mustangs in the first half of the season, it has been smooth sailing for the Marauders, as they haven’t dropped a set the rest of the way.
Among those six spotless wins was an early tilt with the Lancers, a match that McMaster took control of out of the gates. The first set, which ended 25-18 in favour of the maroon machine, saw the visitors pick up 14 kills and a sizzling .429 kill percentage. And while they weren’t able to keep up that same pace throughout, they found continued success at the net to snag a 26-24 win in set two, and a 25-20 edge in the third to sweep away the Lancers. The combination of Andrew Richards (London, Ont.) and Nathan Delguidice (Cochrane, Ont.) led the way for Mac with 21.5 and 20 points, respectively, while Pierce Johnson (Chatham, Ont.) anchored the Windsor attack with 20.5 points of his own.
The performances from this potent pair is nothing new for the No. 6 Marauders, as Richards and Delguidice top the team in kills per set and points per set, while also ranking in the top five in digs per set. These efforts, along with those from fellow standouts like setter Daniel Doty (London, Ont.) and middle Bennett Swan (Oakville, Ont.), have helped the Hamilton squad rank second overall in hitting percentage (.269), first in service aces per set (2.21) and solo blocks (44), as well as top five ranks in kills per set (11.64) and blocks per set (2.23).
Windsor, however, has seen similar success in several of these key statistical areas, with 2017-18 all-star Johnson right in the thick of it. The outside hitter sits among the top five in the OUA in both kills and kills per set, while pouring in 4.7 points per set as well. While he has thrived once again on an individual level, the team has done so as well. The Lancers, who are currently No. 7 in U SPORTS, are atop the conference in hitting percentage (.292) and blocks per set (2.52), while ranking second in service aces per set (1.85) and digs per set (9.97)
With numbers like that, it is no surprise that Windsor has just two losses to their name this season, to go along with seven wins. Aside from the aforementioned defeat at the hands of their marquee matchup opponents, the Lancers also fell to the Toronto Varsity Blues by a 3-1 mark. Johnson and outside hitter Brad Gyemi (Tecumseh, Ont.) led the way in the loss, but it is their consistent play, along with that of middles John Moate (Oakville, Ont.) and Dami Alalade (Windsor, Ont.), among others, that have helped Windsor maintain their winning ways as a whole this season.
Both teams will need to execute at a high level to escape with a win and both will have the ability and motivation to do just that. Windsor will be looking to even the season series and also earn a bit of revenge from their Forsyth Cup Final Four semifinal loss a season ago (3-1), while McMaster, on the flip side, will look to take another big step toward setting themselves up for a seventh straight provincial title.
To see who prevails in their 2019 debuts, fans can watch all the action unfold LIVE on oua.tv on Saturday, January 12 at 2:00pm. The marquee matchup is also available via the oua.tv app, which can be downloaded on Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.